The Government is working on a bill to lower the price of medicines in private pharmacies. The Ministry of Health confirmed that Costa Rica’s drug cost is among the highest in the region. The same drugs cost 75% less in Nicaragua than in Costa Rica.
Additionally, the price of medications can vary up to 35% from one pharmacy to another. Often patients purchase what the doctor prescribes without being advised that other brands offer the same medicine at a lower cost. Because of this, the initiative includes the idea that doctors should prescribe generics, not specific brands.
The bill will be taken to the Legislative Assembly in February. The bill seeks balance among the price of the drugs when they enter the country and the price found at various distribution points.
There are 221 drug stores, 77 labs, and 1,167 private pharmacies in Costa Rica. Some are chains and others independent. The private medicine market in the country amounts to about $550 million annually.